About greg

Just another bozo on the bus.

crazy-ass bastards

— That crazy-ass bastard in Colorado.
— Which crazy-ass bastard in Colorado?
— The crazy-ass bastard that shot all those people in the supermarket.
— The one last week? Or has there been a new crazy-ass bastard shooting people in supermarket?
— The one last week. A supermarket, for fuck’s sake. People there just buying bread and tunafish and shit. Now they dead.
— Dead as tunafish.
— I’m thinking about buying me a gun.
— You’re what?
— I mean, you can’t buy tunafish without some crazy-ass bastard shooting you? Fuck that. I’m a get me a gun.
— There it is, right there.
— There what is?
— That’s how they do it. That’s how they keep selling guns.
— They who?
— Motherfuckers who make the guns, that’s who. Look, how many people we got in America?
— Fuck if I know.
— About three hundred and thirty million.
— That’s a lot of people.
— A metric shit ton of people. And how many guns we got?
— Fuck if I know.
— About four hundred million.
— That’s a lot of…wait. We got more guns than we got people?
— We got more guns than people. That’s what people call market saturation.
— Market what?
— Saturation. Like if you selling tunafish and everybody already got a whole damn shelf filled with cans of tunafish, don’t nobody need any more tunafish, right? So how you gonna sell ’em more tunafish?
— Fuck if I know.
— You got to scare ’em.
— How you gonna scare people into buying tunafish?
— You tell ’em tunafish gonna save their lives. You tell ’em tunafish’ll cure cancer and hemorrhoids and mumps. You tell ’em unless they got a stack of tunafish in their cupboard, they gonna get the Covid. You convince folks they absolutely GOT to have tunafish if they want to live.
— But…
— Or you tell ’em that tunafish gonna become scarce. They don’t stock up on tunafish right fucking now, it’ll soon be gone. They’ll never get any more tunafish. Hell, the government probably gonna come right into their kitchen and take whatever tunafish they got.
— That’s bullshit.
— Course it’s bullshit. Don’t matter. Scared people fall for bullshit like they was made of brick. Truth is, if you got yourself a couple of cans of tunafish, you don’t need to buy any more until you ate up what you got. Right?
— I guess. I sorta forgot what we were talking about. Wait…market thingy.
— Market saturation. Same as tunafish. You already got yourself a gun…or even two or three guns…the only way the motherfuckers who make guns are gonna sell more is if they scare you into buying ’em.
— You’re saying gun makers had that crazy-ass bastard shoot up that store in order to get people to buy more guns?
— What? No. Jesus, no. What I’m saying is the motherfuckers who make guns will use gun violence to scare folks into buying more guns. It’s like this. If you make guns, you want to make it easy for folks to buy guns. If you make it easy to buy guns, some crazy-ass bastard will buy one and use it to shoot folks shopping for tuna-fish. And every time some crazy-ass bastard shoots a lot of tunafish-buying folks, the motherfuckers who make guns will say, ‘The only way to protect yourself from crazy-ass bastards who buy our guns is to buy more of our guns.’
— Maybe they should make it harder for crazy-ass bastards to buy guns.
— See, there’s the problem. You mostly can’t tell if a crazy-ass bastard IS a crazy-ass bastard until he starts shooting people.
— So what do we do?
— Make it harder for everybody to buy guns.
— But I want to buy a gun.
— To protect yourself when you need to replenish your tunafish supply.
— Well, yeah.
— Because it’s too easy for crazy-ass bastards to buy guns.
— Exactly.
— There it is, right there.

the yawning of george r.r. martin

You know George R.R. Martin, right? The writer. The guy who wrote 5/7ths of a very good fantasy fiction series, which was turned into 7/8ths of a pretty good HBO series? Well, it’s being reported that HBO has given him a five-year deal worth “mid-eight figures” to develop other series based on the Game of Thrones universe.

HBO has deep pockets, to be sure–but I’m thinking it’s idiotic to pay him that much coin. I mean, the guy does good work. There are problems with it, of course–the sexism and racism and all that–but the overall dramatic quality of the work is very good. He just doesn’t finish the work. He’s like a master cabinetmaker who designs and creates a beautiful, original kitchen, but doesn’t bother to install the cabinets. They’re just left sitting there on the floor, pretty but incomplete. And as for George R.R. Martin’s GoT universe? At this point, who cares?

Don’t get me wrong. I still remember when a friend told me I should read the original novel, A Game of Thrones. I’d gone through a period where I read some fantasy fiction, but I’d largely gone off of the genre. It all seemed predictable and derivative. This isn’t a verbatim conversation, but it went something like this:

Him: You’ve got to read this book. You’ll love it. It’s unlike anything you’ve read.
Me: Are there elves in it?
Him: No elves.
Me: Dwarves?
Him: No. Well, yes, but not like Dwarf Dwarves. There’s a character who is a dwarf.
Me: But not with a long beard and an innate skill for metallurgy.
Him: Right.
Me: Okay then. What about dragons? Are there dragons?
Him: No. Well, yes, but not like Dragon dragons. Mostly just eggs.
Me: I don’t know.
Him: You’ll love it, trust me.
Me: I don’t know.
Him: You know how when you read a book you pretty much know who the heroes and bad guys are? You pretty much know who’s going to die and who won’t?
Me: Yeah.
Him: Well, that doesn’t apply here.

And hey, he was right. It was unlike anything I’d read, and I did love it. The characters were wildly diverse, mostly complex, but they still managed to be internally consistent. It was clearly fantasy, but the fantasy elements felt grounded. I mean, sure there was magic; you have to expect that in fantasy fiction. But it wasn’t airy fartsy magic–you know, a wizard in a goofy hat holding up a staff and firing off balls of lightning. The magic was magic in the same way menstrual fluid is blood–it was messy, maybe, but basic and honest.

And yeah, there was no way to guess who was going to live or die. Main characters were killed. Not killed in noble, honorable, heroic ways. Killed ugly for stupid reasons. Killed ugly and pointlessly (well, not pointlessly in terms of the narrative, but pointlessly in terms of the story world). They just got killed or maimed, and there it was. Nobody in the story was safe. It was awful and completely glorious. Okay, as the story progressed and the novels got longer and more popular, the main characters became safer. But the precedent had been set, and you were never quite sure if they were really safe.

I had to wait almost a year for the second book in the series to be published. And it was worth the wait. A Clash of Kings was as good as the first novel. We knew at that point it was going to be a trilogy. The third novel, A Storm of Swords, also took about a year and was equally good. By then Martin had decided there’d be six books. That was a tad concerning; six books is a LOT of story. But if Martin could maintain the quality of the work and the novels were published at a reasonable rate, then yay.

We had to wait five years for the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. Five years. Half a decade. Still, it was quite a good novel. But lawdy what a long wait. The only good thing about that long wait was that, just before the fourth novel was published, I had time to re-read the three earlier books so I could remember what had happened.

Then I waited six years for the fifth book. Six years. It only took two years for Magellan to circumnavigate the globe in a goddamn carrack (with a similar body count, by the way). Six years, and by then Martin had decided there’d be maybe seven books in the series. Seven fucking books. Maybe. I bought the book, whatever it was called, and read it, but by that point I’d rather lost my excitement about the story. There were a few characters I was still interested in (Tyrion and Arya, of course), but the story itself had pretty much lost its meaning for me. I sort of recall enjoying the fifth book, but it felt bloated and sluggish, like it had overeaten and just wanted to take a nap.

That was ten years ago, and we’re still waiting for the sixth book. Wait, that’s not true. I’m not waiting for it at all. I no longer care if the sixth or seventh novels ever get published. I watched the HBO series, and for me the story is done. I’m told the series ending may be different from the ending of the novels, but Jeebus on toast, who cares?

Look, George. R.R. Martin gave us three really solid novels, as well as a couple of pretty good ones. That’s no small thing. But he’s let his readers down. He built up their expectations, then failed to meet them. He effectively promised–and continues to repeat that promise–that he’d finish this story. He should either plant his ass in a chair and finish it or just admit that he’s done–that the story is going to remain unfinished. He needs to be honest with the readers, who are rightfully disappointed in him.

We also have a legit reason to be disappointed in HBO. They produced six good seasons of Martin’s story–and one season that was only okay, as well as the massively awful final season. But that’s also partially down to Martin. The HBO series was flawed but mostly solid so long as they had access to the source material–the novels. When they tried to go beyond the novels, even with Martin’s help, the quality of the story suffered.

Maybe the new HBO-Martin projects will be good television. Maybe it’s clever of HBO to buy access to Martin’s story world, but leave Martin himself out of it. Maybe they can produce good work if they decide not to rely on Martin for anything other than ideas. I don’t know.

What I know is this: I don’t much care what George. R.R. Martin is doing now. Or what he promises he’s going to do. I’m grateful for his early work, but that’s it. I don’t care that HBO is preparing more shows based on his story world. I’m grateful for the few good seasons of GoT, and that’s it.

But the promise of more of Martin’s work? Pardon me while I yawn.

the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet

Here is today’s lesson: if you elect stupid Christians, you get stupid Christianity.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. This is NOT an attack on Christianity or Christians or religion of any sort. It’s not an attack on Jesus or Jeebus. It’s an attack on stupidity. It’s an attack on insulting the intelligence of the American people. It’s an attack on religious gaslighting. It’s an attack on religious arrogance. But mostly stupidity.

I’m talking about Cindy Hyde-Smith, one of the US Senators (oh my fucking god she’s a Senator) from Mississippi. Yesterday, in an actual real Senate hearing on voter rights, she sorta kinda semi-quoted the Bible to defend legislation in Georgia–a state that is NOT Mississippi–that restricts early voting on Sundays. She held up a dollar bill and said (and I swear, I am NOT making this up) the following:

You know, this is our currency, this is a dollar bill. This says, ‘The United States of America, in God we trust.’ Etched in stone in the U.S. Senate chamber is ‘in God we trust.’ When you swore in all of these witnesses, the last thing you said to them in your instructions was ‘so help you God.’ In God’s word in Exodus 20:18, it says ‘remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.’

Okay, where to start? Let’s start with this: What the fuck? She’s not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to vote on Sundays because of US currency–which would be galactically stupid. Nope, she’s saying people shouldn’t be allowed to vote on Sundays because of her Christian religion–which is only massively stupid. Is she aware that not all voters are Christian? Maybe? Maybe not? Either way, this is stupid.

Next, let’s look at what Exodus 20:18 actually says, which is this:

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

Thunderings, lightnings, noise. All of which is oddly appropriate. The thing is, Senator (I still can’t believe somebody this stupid is an actual Senator) Hyde-Smith made an simple, understandable mistake. She actually quoted Exodus 20:8, which does, in fact, say: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Of course, she left a bit out. It goes on to say more than that. It also says this:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

Any work. Thou shalt not do any work. Thou and everybody else. No work. No stores or shops open, no restaurants, no taverns, no Walmart, no spa or gym, no movie theaters, no Waffle House, nothing is open. Nobody doing chores. Nobody working the fields. Nobody tidying up at home, nobody doing laundry, nobody cooking or doing dishes. Six days shalt thou labor, and do ALL thy work, but on the seventh day you do fuck all. Just sit around praying and generally being holy.

Senator (it hurts me to call her that) Hyde-Smith may not be aware of this, but her own state of Mississippi is open for business on Sundays. It’s hard to justify forbidding people from voting on Sunday, but allowing them to buy mufflers and eat waffles and watch movies. There’s a flaw in that reasoning.

But also, there’s this: the book of Exodus, which is the second book of the Torah, was almost certainly written around the 5th century BCE. What does BCE stand for? That’s right. Before the Common Era. Before Jesus. The Sabbath mentioned in Exodus? The Sabbath Senator (Jesus suffering fuck, how can she be a Senator?) Hyde-Smith is referring to? That’s not the Christian Sabbath; it’s the Jewish Sabbath. We’re talking Friday evening to Saturday evening, not Sunday.

Finally, there’s this: Senator (really, how is that possible?) Hyde-Smith and her comrades in the GOP are blatantly gaslighting. They’re not interested in protecting the Sabbath. They’re only interested in protecting the GOP from people who want to vote. Mostly, that means they want to protect the GOP from Black people. And Democrats.

Instead of advocating popular policies that will make people want to vote for Republicans, they’ve chosen to find ways to discourage people from voting for Democrats. And what have the people done in response? Having seen the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off from the GOP. And told them to go fuck themselves. Amen.

3 television shows i’d watch

I like television. I don’t watch a lot of it, but I like it. I watch probably a couple of hours of television a day. Wait, not true. I usually watch the local news and the network news. That’s an hour right there. Then I’ll watch an episode of some show over a meal. Later I’ll usually watch an episode of a different show. So let’s say a couple of hours of entertainment television, and a hour of news.

With so many streaming services available, there’s always something to watch. That said, I don’t generally watch US network television shows. Not because of any anti-American bias, but because they all seem too slick and indistinguishable. Most of the actors–especially the women actors–tend to look like models rather than real people. The storylines often feel familiar and predictable. They don’t require anything from the viewer but passive engagement.

Since I complain about them, somebody asked me what I’d like to see US television production companies release. And because I’d rather think about that than what I’m supposed to be doing, I came up with three ideas for television shows I’d watch. I was just amusing myself, of course, and being a bit ridiculous–but I think I’d actually watch television shows like this.

Here we go:

Welcome to Ballachulish: Two assassins–one an official CIA wetwork specialist on a gov’t pension, one a Belgian freelancer who has made enough money to get out of the game–coincidentally choose to retire to the same small out-of-the-way village in Scotland. Although they each remain suspicious that the other is there to kill them, they semi-bond together as they interact with the quirky locals–an irascible veterinarian, a lesbian couple who operate a pub/B&B, an irascible postmaster, the local constable (a wanna-be spy novelist), an irascible shopkeeper, the local laird and his extended family, an irascible Korean owner of a Mexican restaurant, a standard attractive single woman school teacher, an irascible ironmonger/blacksmith/interior designer.

The Bookstore: A small, dusty used bookstore in Brooklyn that somehow attracts all sorts of customers–lawyers, immigrant taxi drivers, soccer moms, art students, police officers, actor/waiters, college professors, professional dancers, auto mechanics, bicycle messengers, etc. Occasionally some ask the bookseller for a recommendation. Bookseller encourages them to browse, take their time, find a book themselves. If they insist on a recommendation the bookseller will agree, saying “I’ll recommend a book for you just this once. One time, and that’s it. And all sales are final. Are you sure you want me to recommend a book?” If they still insist, the bookseller will charge them US$14.75 in advance, study their face for a while, then say “I know exactly what you’re looking for” and send them to a back room.

As they pass through the door, they enter a story. Might be a romance, might be a murder mystery, might be a heist story, might be a pirate story, might be science fiction or fantasy, might be a story set in a Russian gulag or a French Foreign Legion post in north Africa–but it’s rarely what the customer thinks they want. Most have happy–or at least satisfactory–endings. Some don’t. The story resolves, the customer finds themselves back in the bookstore.

Ol’ Man River: Guy (or woman, doesn’t matter–let’s say a woman, what the hell) wins the lottery. She leaves her old life behind (whatever that includes). Buys a houseboat. Travels up and down the Mississippi River mostly by herself. Stuff happens. She meets people, she has visits from family and friends, she deals with animals and boat problems and bad weather, she stops at various river towns, she learns some local history, she changes in ways she doesn’t expect. Lots of pretty scenery.

I considered suggesting a series in which two retired assassins buy a houseboat and travel up and down the Mississippi stopping at bookstores in river towns, but that seemed a bit over the top.

3 things that make me love the world

I’m not one of those “Let’s focus on happy news and forget how completely fucking awful the world is” guys. I lack the Pollyanna gene. When the world is completely fucking awful, I want to know about it. I want to understand it. Don’t try to distract me with bluebirds or other happy horseshit. Because despite how completely fucking awful the world is, I still manage to remain pretty chipper and stupidly happy. I still love this world.

I’m telling you that because the news this morning is jammed with the mass murder that took place in Georgia yesterday. Eight dead–six Asian women, two non-Asian men. Apparently murdered by some inadequate white incel asshole who, according to law enforcement officials, “had a really bad day…and this is what he did.” On any other morning, I’d be writing about both this hate crime against women (and the reality is that the most common hate crimes–and the least acknowledged hate crimes–are committed against women) and the casual way white law enforcement agents treat white mass murderers who commit hate crimes.

But not this morning. I’m NOT trying to distract you from the truly awful shit that’s taking place. But three things happened this morning that made me ridiculously happy. And I’m not going to let this Georgia asshole detract from that. Fuck him in the neck. These are three things that make me love this awful world.

First thing. The Pritzker Prize. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s the most prestigious award in architecture. It’s usually awarded to some arrogant asshole ‘starchitect’ who designs massive, expensive, flamboyant buildings. Not this year. This year it’s gone to Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, a pair of architects who have largely focused on transforming low-income housing complexes. Instead of tearing down old structures and building new ones, these two have found ways to transform old housing projects into attractive living environments. A lot of poor people may hate where they live, but aren’t confident they’ll be better off if they moved.

Turning grim public housing into bright living spaces.

A few years ago, Lacaton and Vassal were asked to work on “a particularly large and hideous” public housing project in Bordeaux. The people who lived in the projects didn’t want to leave; they just wanted more space and more light. Lacaton and Vassal gave them what they wanted. The basically encased the building in glass, turning what had been exterior apartment walls into sliding glass doors leading to an enclosed terrace. It cost less money, it required less disruption for the tenants, and it turned grim, drab apartments into bright sunny spaces. The Pritzker jury wrote:

Through their belief that architecture is more than just buildings, through the issues they address and the proposals they realize, through forging a responsible and sometimes solitary path illustrating that the best architecture can be humble and is always thoughtful, respectful, and responsible, they have shown that architecture can have a great impact on our communities and contribute to the awareness that we are not alone.

I like living in a world where French architects are honored for their work in support of poor folks living in public housing.

Second thing: I’ve written about the game Geoguessr before–both as a game and as source material for an appropriation art project. For a variety of reasons, I don’t play the game as often as I used to. But now and then, I’ll get the urge and I’ll immerse myself in virtually exploring a novel part of the world. Last night I played and found myself lost in the Polish countryside, where I saw an interesting bit of graffiti art.

I don’t speak Polish. But I help run a Facebook group called Geoguessr Oddities, with a global membership some of whom were likely to know Polish. So I posted the screengrab. And a short time later I learned Mysza Patrzy jak Jedzisz translates to “The Mouse watches you drive.” It wasn’t very helpful in finding out where I was in Poland, but the translation cracked me up, and the interaction itself made me happy. Then this morning another member of the group informed me that franekmysza is a Polish graffiti artist with an Instagram account. He’s painted that mouse all over Poland.

I like living in a world in which I can be introduced to a Polish graffiti artist by playing a game designed by a Swedish IT consultant to get you lost in new parts of the world.

Third thing. There was an article in the Washington Post about a kid, Darius Brown, who learned to sew bow ties for rescue animal–and I swear, this made me tear up and I came THIS close to crying like a little girl. Darius (and, again, he has an Instagram account you may want to follow) was taught to sew bow ties by his sister when he was eight years old. He got started in the rescue animal bow tie gig two years later, in 2017, when a couple dozen dogs left homeless in Florida and Puerto Rico by Hurricane Irma were transferred to a shelter in New York City. He thought the animals might get adopted quicker if they were wearing bow ties.

Let me just say that again. A ten-year-old kid in New Jersey sewed 25 bow ties for rescue dogs from Florida and Puerto Rico because he wanted them to get adopted. How perfectly wonderful is that? And hey, it worked.

Of course it worked. Look at that good boy wearing one of his bow ties in a Savannah shelter. Are you kidding me? Who wouldn’t want to adopt this tripod pooch? According to WaPo, Darius has now “donated more than 600 bow ties for dogs and cats in shelters.” He’s only 14-years-old. He says, “A well-dressed dog…that will make people smile.” And yeah, it does.

I suppose I should mention that Darius has both a speech disorder and a fine motor skills disorder–but since those things don’t define him, they’re less important than what he does. And what he does is make the lives of shelter animals better, which makes shelters better, which makes the lives of the people who adopt the shelter animals better, which makes the entire world a little bit better.

I like living in a world with Darius Brown in it.

Yes, the world is completely fucking awful. But it’s also completely fucking wonderful. We shouldn’t let the former diminish the latter. There are architects who transform awful buildings into livable spaces. There are graffiti artists painting snarky mice all over Poland. And there’s a kid in New Jersey putting bow ties on shelter animals. How can you not be in love with this world?

EDITORIAL NOTE: Another thing that makes me happy. A couple of folks have kindly and gently taken me to task for writing ‘crying like a little girl‘. It makes me happy because 1) it’s nice that folks call me when it looks like I’m being a dick, and 2) because originally I actually included a long, parenthetical tangent about that phrase, doing a riff sort of like Dickens in A Christman Carol when he natters on about the phrase ‘dead as a doornail’. But I write these posts in a rush, and I edit very little…so I deleted the tangent in the hope that people would interpret crying like a little girl to mean grown men and little girls cry in the same way and sometimes for the same reasons.

I’ve decided NOT to correct it. It’s better to let other folks learn from my misjudgments.

until proven guilty

I’m afraid I’ve pissed off a friend. Well, it would be more accurate that I’ve further pissed off a friend who was already pissed off. They were already pissed off because former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin–who, of course, is charged with the murder of George Floyd–has asked the court to 1) delay the trial and 2) reconsider an earlier change-of-venue motion. I further pissed them off by saying both requests were reasonable.

I was asked How can you defend the cop who murdered George Floyd? My friend either forgot or was unaware that I’d once made a living helping to defend people accused of all manner of awful crimes. For seven years or so, I was a private investigator specializing in criminal defense. Murder, rape, arson, child abuse, animal abuse, pick an awful crime and there’s a good chance I’ve helped defend somebody accused of it. Almost all of them were factually guilty; almost all of them had actually committed the crimes of which they were accused.

I could truthfully argue that I wasn’t actually defending the accused criminals; I was defending the US Constitution, which guarantees everybody the right to a fair trial. I could truthfully argue I was actually defending civil liberties. Because the ONLY way to insure the innocent get the full protection of the law is by forcing the State to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt within the strictures of the law–and forcing them to prove it every single time. That means defending the guilty as vigorously as the innocent.

Derek Chauvin, police officer

But here’s the thing: it’s going to be incredibly difficult–maybe impossible–for Derek Chauvin to get a fair trial. It’s going to be incredibly difficult–maybe impossible–to find 14 jurors (twelve jurors plus two alternates) who will be willing and able to put aside everything they ‘know’ about the case and decide on a verdict based solely on the evidence and the law.

Most of the people I know are dead certain Chauvin is guilty–that he murdered George Floyd. There are other folks who are certain he caused Floyd’s death, but aren’t certain about Chauvin’s intent (which matters in a murder case)–maybe Chauvin was reckless, maybe he was indifferent, maybe he was just negligent. There are folks who think Floyd was somehow complicit in his own death–that he wouldn’t have died if he’d made better decisions. And there are folks who think Floyd’s life just doesn’t matter–that Black lives don’t matter. Very few folks are capable of putting their thoughts and beliefs aside long enough to focus purely on the evidence.

That pool of potentially impartial jurors HAD to decrease when the city of Minneapolis announced it had reached a US$27 million civil settlement with the Floyd family. I suspect a lot of potentially impartial jurors heard that and thought, There’s no way the city would cough up that much cash unless they knew they were responsible for killing that man.

Derek Chauvin, criminal defendant

So yes, I think there are legit reasons for delaying the trial. And yes, I think there are legit reasons to hold the trial in a different jurisdiction–one that hadn’t gone through weeks or months of protests, demonstrations, and riots as a result of Floyd’s death. I think the requests are legit because–and this will also piss off some/most folks–right now Derek Chauvin is innocent. Every defendant walks into a criminal court as an innocent person; the State has to prove they’re guilty. That’s the core principle of our justice system. Innocent until proven guilty. It has to apply to Chauvin, just like it applies to any accused criminal.

That said, I hope the State does its job; I hope they’ve followed the law and legally obtained enough forensic evidence to convince a jury to convict. I hope the defense team does their job; I hope they hold the State to the letter of the law and force them to prove their case. And I hope the court does its job; I hope the court abides by the letter and spirit of the law to insure Chauvin gets a fair trial.

Years ago, when I was doing criminal defense work, there was a bailiff at the Strafford County Courthouse–a former Sheriff’s Deputy who’d been injured in the line of duty and had a bum leg. While I was waiting to testify in some trial, he told me this: “I’m a great believer in mercy; but justice just keeps happening.” I agree with him about mercy; I’m not convinced justice happens as often he believed. But I hold out hope that it will.

EDITORIAL NOTE: One of the problems with being involved in the criminal justice system, even from a defense perspective, is the tendency to focus on specific issues rather than the broad system itself. I was asked a question about delaying and moving Chauvin’s trial, and I addressed that question–and only that question.

I wasn’t addressing the criminal justice system itself, but yes lawdy, it is wildly fucked up. And I didn’t address the obvious irony that the legal protections that are–and should be–afforded to Derek Chauvin were denied BY Derek Chauvin to George Floyd. Almost every criminal trial is about protecting the rights of people who refused to recognize the rights of their victims.

a massive tsunami of cabbage

Democrats: We think we should help people who’ve suffered as a result of the pandemic.
Republicans: Okay. Wait…which people?
Dems: All of them, but mostly the poor and working classes.
Reps: Seriously?
Dems: Seriously.
Reps: Uh, you realize they’re not going to donate to your campaigns, right?
Dems: Well…
Reps: Not in any meaningful way. Maybe a couple of bucks now and then, but we’re not talking about a massive tsunami of cabbage. They’re…you know…poor and all that.
Dems: Yeah. That’s why they need help.
Reps: So it’s not about campaign contributions?
Dems: It’s not about campaign contributions.
Reps: So it’s a political stunt. Not sure how that helps our party.
Dems: We think it’s good politics, but mainly it’s about helping the people.
Reps: Sure. But try to see it from our perspective. If YOU guys help…you know, ‘the people’…they’re going to wonder why WE didn’t help them when we wore the big hat.
Dems: Maybe. But the point is the people need help. So we should…you know…help them.
Reps: I dunno. How much help are we talking about?
Dems: A lot of help. Huge help. Uh…a massive tsunami of cabbage.
Reps: What? No. Are you kidding? Fuck that.
Dems: But…
Reps: Maybe we take some baby steps. A little bit of help. A tiny bit. Mostly symbolic. Enough that ‘the people’ will get the idea, but not so much that it’ll piss off our base.
Dems: If we reduce the amount of the help, will you vote with us?
Reps: Hah! Nofuckingway. Our base would set fire to the goddamn Capitol again. Have you MET those guys? They fucking nuts.
Dems: If you’re not going to support the legislation, then why should we modify it to help you?
Reps: In the interest of bipartisanship. The ‘people’ like bipartisanship. They eat that shit up with a spoon.
Dems: But bipartisanship requires both of us to be willing to cooperate in the interest of good policy.
Reps: See, you guys always get that wrong. Bipartisanship just means using the word ‘bipartisan’ now and then. Or it means accusing you guys of not being bipartisan. It’s just a word we have to insert into our messaging. Kinda like ‘Christian’.
Dems: Yeah, no, I don’t think so.
Reps: So…you’re still going ahead with that ‘helping ‘the people” business?
Dems: Yep.
Reps: Look, that’s really going to hurt us. You don’t want to do that, do you?
Dems: No, but we really DO want to help the people.

Reps: You may want to think about this. We have this whole Dr. Seuss thing we’ve been working on. It’ll fuck you up, big time. And we’ve got a Mr. Potato Head’s dick agenda that will leave you guys bleeding in the goddamn gutter.
Dems: Thanks for the warning, but I think we’ll keep…wait. Mr. Potato Head’s dick?
Reps: It’s a thing. We’re still setting the parameters of the campaign. But if you guys insist on this ‘the people’ bullshit, we will choke you on Mr. Potato Head’s dick.
Dems: It’s a risk we’ll have to take.
Reps: Sorry…wasn’t listening. I was composing a fundraising email. I’m telling you, Mr. Potato Head is going to bring us a massive tsunami of cabbage. What were you saying?
Dems: We were saying we’re still going to help the people.
Reps: Okay. Go ahead. You guys are going to fucking ruin government, but go ahead. You’ll find out. You can’t dodge Mr. Potato Head’s dick. This is big boy politics.

musings

Somebody (I don’t remember who) at some point in time (I also don’t remember when) asked me how I decided what to write about on this blog. I don’t remember what my answer was, but…okay, wait. I should point out there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my memory. It’s just that who asked the question and when it was asked and what my answer was–none of that’s important, except as a ridiculous way to introduce what I’m about to say. Well, write. You know what I mean.

Probably the reason I don’t remember what my answer was is that I’ve no idea how I decide what to write about. Something somewhere sparks a thought and I write about it. That’s it. Anyway, after yesterday’s post, my friend Anne said this:

“Beautiful photos, and really lovely musings.”

Musings. It sounds so intellectual, doesn’t it. But dude, IT IS NOT. I know this on account of the fact that ‘muse’ came up in a conversation I had years ago (and no, I don’t remember when, but I’m pretty sure I remember who…again, it doesn’t matter). I’d just assumed that ‘musing’ had something to do with the Muses. You know, the nine daughters of Zeus who were goddesses of the arts and sciences? Those Muses. I mean, that would seem to make sense, right?

Nope. Well, mostly nope. Etymologists suggest the modern word probably has been influenced in sense by capital ‘M’ Muse. There’s a lot of elasticity in ‘probably’. Doesn’t matter, because in fact, small ‘m’ muse comes…wait. Do I need to define ‘muse’? Probably not, but what the hell.

Muse: verb (mused, musing) 1 intrans (often muse on something) to reflect or ponder silently. 2 to say something in a reflective way. 3 intrans to gaze contemplatively. musing adj thoughtful; reflective. noun 1 (musings) literary thoughts. 2 the act of musing.

There you have it. As I was saying, small ‘m’ muse comes from the Old French muser, which meant “to ponder, dream, wonder’ and/or “to loiter, waste time.” This, in turn, came from the Gallo-Roman musa, meaning “snout”. It was apparently a term used in hunting. So basically, ‘musing’ referred to the act of standing around, sniffing the air like a dog who’s lost the scent. The term muzzle, by the way, is derived from the same root.

Dog, musing in a field; not that different from me musing in a junk shop.

So in essence, Anne was saying I stood around in that shop with my nose in the air, sniffing like a dog. Which would be rather rude and insulting except that it really isn’t that far from the truth. The place had a fairly distinct pong; sort of a melange of dust, must, wood chips, organic decay (remember, it was also a plant shop), and old pillows. And I did sort of root around like a curious puppy.